Tieszen Supports Felon Voting, Legislative Pay Raises
At the first Rapid City legislative crackerbarrel of 2015, held this weekend, Senator Craig Tieszen said he’s going to tackle some unpopular issues.
First, he is sponsoring a bill to allow convicted felons to regain their voting rights as soon as they’re released from prison instead of waiting until they’re discharged from parole.
He says the state made a commitment two years ago to hold convicts responsible, through criminal justice reforms, and this change would further that cause.
Tieszen also says he is once again supporting a pay raise for legislators. Previous attempts have failed.
Currently lawmakers are paid $6,000 a year, and Tieszen’s bill would raise that amount to $10,000.
The state Senator says he knows it’s a hard sell.
“I can tell you that if we used my straw poll of legislators quietly in the corner, it would pass by an overwhelming majority,” he said. “However, that’s a little different from calling the roll in the Senate or in the House and voting on the record.”
Legislators last received a pay raise in 1999. Tieszen says the current rate of pay does not entice potential legislators to leave their businesses for three months to serve in Pierre.
He says compensation should be high enough to make up for the sacrifice but not so high that people want the job for the money.
House Majority Leader Brian Gosch says he can’t support the pay raise because there are so many other areas of government falling short.